SUN Hockey Pool

Flames defend Ference

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:43 PM ET

CALGARY - Andrew Ference's former Flames teammates are well aware how outspoken he can be and know he's not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.

However, they will argue Don Cherry's assertion Ference is a bad teammate.

“He always speaks his mind. He’s known to tell you the way he sees it, and that’s on both sides. He’s a good teammate and a good competitor,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “Most guys do appreciate he’s a pretty honest guy in what he sees and what he feels.”

Ference, who spent parts of four seasons in Calgary before being traded to the Boston Bruins, found himself the target of Cherry during Saturday’s Coach’s Corner for criticizing his own teammate, Dan Paille, after a hit to the head of Raymond Sawada of the Dallas Stars.

“I mean it’s a bad hit, right?” Ference said after the game “That’s what they’re trying to get rid of, and you can’t be hypocritical about it when it happens to you and say it’s fine when your teammate does it. It’s a hit they’re trying to get rid of.”

Paille was handed a four-game suspension, and forfeits more than US$23,000 in salary.

Cherry went as far as to blame Ference for Boston’s 2-0 loss to San Jose Saturday and said: “I’d hate to be in that dressing room right now. That brings your dressing room down when you have a guy in the dressing room talking about your own players and you know he’s going to get suspended.”

Iginla wasn’t buying it.

“I don’t know what it causes there, but I do know him and know he’s a good guy and a good teammate,” Iginla stated. “We have a tendency to side with our own team, but he speaks the way he sees it. I know he’s a good teammate and know he’s a very good guy.”

Robyn Regehr had similar thoughts on the matter.

“It’s utter honesty from a guy, Andrew, who’s not afraid to take a stand on what he believes in,” said Regehr. “You’ve seen that from him all throughout his career. It takes a pretty strong person in order to do that. Once he has a certain belief, he’s not afraid to speak about it.

“If your kid or if your teammate does something they’re not supposed to, is it bad to say something to him? Get to help him out down the road? It depends who you are and what type of beliefs you have.”

Veteran Brendan Morrison said any issues from a player being outspoken would be a result of a fractured room in the first place.

“Besides, I don’t think he called out a teammate. He was asked a questions, ‘Was that a dirty hit?’ and he responded honestly,” Morrison said. “That’s the step we might need in order for guys to realize we can’t do that. If there’s any question on hitting a guy, don’t hit him because there’s going to be stiff consequences.

“I can understand where Don Cherry’s coming from and the code and protecting your teammates but if I’m not mistaken, he stuck up for a teammate during that game (Ference fought Adam Burish when the Stars winger shot a puck well after the whistle). So how can you say that guy isn’t going to stand up for his teammates and he does that with his actions?”

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